Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Jesus Youth Retreat in Tampa, FL

May 28th - Jun 1st

Location: The Franciscan center

Located in what seems like a mini Kerala and in a tranquil, somewhat isolated environment is The Franciscan center. This was an excellent site for the retreat as to the fact that everyone attending the retreat could escape from the daily stresses of everyday life and troubles and come to a "home away from home". That is really what is felt like it for many people because there were many parent volunteers and people constantly making us feel comfortable. The rooms were very cozy and hospitable. Now the retreat:....there is so much to be said. It was very touching and life-changing to see God's mighty presence in each and every one of the retreat participants by the last day of the retreat. If you ask anyone attending the retreat they will tell you what an amazing transformation they saw in the youth. In the beginning it was a drastically different story and none of us were united as the children of God but rather a varied group of children with different beliefs and goals for the retreat. It is true to say that a significant percentage was forced by their parents to participate. All of these parents wanted to see a common goal and that goal being: to become closer to God and to open up their hearts to living a satisfied Christian life rather than falling prey to the clutches of western culture and becoming involved in evil acts such as drinking, drugs and even promiscuity. These parents love their children too much to let them go down a downwards spiral so they bought them to a retreat for a spiritual renewal. Once at the retreat various sessions by some Jesus Youth leaders and Father Karickal allowed for the participants to examine their own life and see if God was a part of it. For many, the Lord Jesus was not number 1 on their list but I guarantee you, by the end of the retreat and GOD was the most important part of these children's lives. Biju chettan played very inspiring music and we were all very involved in numerous action songs and the skits. Adoration was very powerful and the Holy Spirit shook down the 'shell' of many and they surrendered themselves to the Merciful and compassionate Lord Jesus. Many confessed all their sins and vowed to start a new, fresh life as a servant of Christ. The retreat allowed for many friendships to be born and the most important relationship of all was formed in those with changed hearts and that is with the LORD. Praise you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, We worship you Lord Jesus. You are ever so loving and you died for our sins, now let us serve you O' Lord because without you we are nothing. We love and we adore you.

By Hima Pius (19 yrs old, Gainesville, FL)

Here are some experiences that people shared of the retreat:

"After two hours of kneeling I felt like I got the Holy Spirit inside of me. We were able to do that not a lot of people could do: kneel for two hours. When I first came, I thought we were just going to pray all day long. I guess I was proven wrong. I had a lot of fun here. Prayer and play time playing football and everything."

Jibin John

" I was thinking like other retreats its going to be boring and I didn’t really wanted to come, but I have to say personally I experienced a really good feeling, like every day it got better and better and I think we all just kind of felt a little bit of God in our life and it was a good feeling. And I had a really good time. "
Sena Kunangara

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sixteen of us where returning from Banglore (to Chennai) after attending JY National Conference 2005. Though we where sixteen we had only fifteen railway tickets. Since it was 11:45 PM there was no scope of getting more reservation tickets. So we decided to take an unreserved ticket and the “sacrifice guy” among us insisted to travel by that ticket.

But when the journey commenced I understood that the general (unreserved) compartment was too crowded and the “sacrifice guy” was silently suffering. All of us where against the idea of letting him bear the cross for us. So we decided to get a berth for him and to equally bear the additional cost incurred.

We went to meet the TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) and asked for an extra berth. He informed us that we will have to give him Rs:335(Rs:250 fine + 85 difference in ticket cost) for getting an extra berth. The original cost of the ticket was only around 150 and we already paid around Rs:90 for the unreserved ticked. This means that the cost of the journey cost around Rs:425 instead of Rs:150, i.e around 180% more. People started discussing whether or not to bear the additional cost. Seeing this TTE gave us a wonderful “offer”: “Don’t worry. I will give you the berth for just 150 . . .”.
I was first delighted to hear this. But immediately we understood that he was asking bribe from us.

(Temptation 1: I was really tempted to give in. I thought I am going to loose Rs:150 unnecessarily.

Temptation 2: To get the glory for me. I wanted to settle the deal at Rs:150 and to be a hero in front of all for talking to the TTE saving 150 rupees.)

But some how I overcame it. My friend who was with me during the conversation was also not willing to give in. So I said to the TTE that we want to do it in the proper way and that he should give us the receipt for whatever amount we pay. Then he asked us why we wanted to do it. He wanted to know why we wanted to go in the proper channel and why we where not willing to pay bribe even though it was cheaper.

(Temptation 3: I was tempted to say some answers like patriotism, ethical values, “spirit of the youth”, “annyan” movie etc . . . )

But I heard a strong voice with in me urging me to tell him the correct reason. So I told him: “We are Christians. We are not supposed to do such things. We strongly wish to live by His values. I request you to try to understand us. Kindly accept Rs:350 from us and give us the berth and the bill”. Then he conceded and took the bill book. Before writing the bill once again he showed “sympathy” to us and put forth the Rs:150 offer. But I didn’t give in.

But as he took the pen and started to write the bill he said “OK. Since you said that answer I am not imposing the fine. So give me Rs:85 and have the berth.”

We gave him Rs:85 and got the berth, and yes the receipt too J.
Praise God. Give Him all Glory.

One more time I experienced His devine providence and His love. All we need to do is just Trust in Him.

Every temptation is also an opportunity for greater merit.
God continuously draws us closer to him, sometimes through miracles, sometimes through mercy, some times through love. He does all this for our salvation out of His love.